29 January 2013 by Luke McCormick
The Northern Territory is a land rich in Aboriginal heritage and rugged, natural beauty. Step back in time among the rock art of Kakadu and Arnhem Land, experience the sacred solitude of Uluru and King's Canyon, then canoe, bushwalk, bird watch, camp and four-wheel drive your way through Katherine. Drop into the outpost of Alice Springs and soak up Darwin's balmy mix of food and cultures.
Here we take a look at the territory's best known highlights and nature reserves.
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Commonwealth National Parks
Both enjoy the rare privilege of dual World Heritage listing for their universal cultural and natural values.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta is located in the Red Centre, while Kakadu is in the Top End.
The Red Centre is Australia's physical and metaphorical heart. The area covers a vast region and includes the natural wonders of Uluru, Kata Tjuta, the MacDonnell Ranges and Kings Canyon.
Things to see and do
- Learn about Tjukurpa at the Uluru and Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre. Tjukurpa is the traditional law guiding the Anangu people.
- Walk around the base of Uluru with an Aboriginal guide to follow in the footsteps of ancestral beings and discover sacred sites. Marvel at the way the colours of Uluru change at different times of the day.
- Enjoy a guide walk through the Valley of the Winds in the Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park.
- Browse the large number of Indigenous art galleries in Alice Springs for a unique piece of Central Desert art.
- Drive the Red Centre Way from Alice Springs to Uluru.
- Visit the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs, home of mechanic inventions including the first motorised road train.
- Meet colourful Outback characters in the local pubs; visit the home of the Royal Flying Doctors Service and take a peddle radio lesson at the School of the Air.
- Visit Palm Valley, an amazing oasis in the desert.
- Camp out under the stars on the Larapinta Trail or take in the 360-degree views from Mt Sonder.
- Become a jackaroo or jillaroo at Kings Creek Station, an 1,800 square kilometre cattle station near the Watarrka National Park.
- Fossick for gems in the gold-rush ghost town of Arltunga in the East MacDonnell Ranges.
- Take a scenic flight in a light aircraft, hot air balloon or helicopter.
- Enjoy unsurpassed views of this seemingly infinite landscape.
- Take the 1500-kilometre historic train journey from Alice Springs to Darwin aboard The Ghan.
- Visit the old Telegraph Station at Alice Springs, built in 1872 to relay messages between Darwin and Adelaide and overseas.
Australia's Timeless North is a naturally and culturally significant landscape that takes in key attractions including Kakadu, Nitmiluk, Mary River and Garig Gunak National Parks; the townships of Katherine and Jabiru; and west Arnhem Land.
Things to see and do
- See great examples of ancient aboriginal rock art at Nourlangie Rock and Ubirr.
- Go bird-watching in the wetlands of Mamukala.
- Spot crocodiles on the East Alligator River.
- Take a boat ride to the spectacular Twin or Jim Jim Falls.
- Learn about the Katherine School of the Air, which delivers educational programs for children in regional communities spread across 800,000 square kilometres.
- Meet native wildlife along the walking trails and boardwalks of the Yellow Water Wetlands.
- Take a dip in the plunge pool at Gunlom, made famous in the film Crocodile Dundee.
- Jump in a helicopter and observe the power of the Arnhem Land Plateau.
- Learn about Kakadu's living culture at the Warradjan Aborginal Cultural Centre.
- Buy authentic Aboriginal art or create your own dot painting in Katherine.
- Camp by a billabong and fish for barramundi in the clear waterways found throughout Nitmiluk National Park.
- Trek the five-day Jatbula Trail from Katherine Gorge to Edith Falls.
- Explore the historic ruins at Victoria Settlement and Port Essington on the Cobourg Peninsula.
- Enjoy a sunrise breakfast aboard a cruise through the ancient gorges of Katherine and Nitmiluk National Parks.
The Kimberley National Landscape highlights Australia's remote north-west corner. Although most of the Kimberley is located om Western Australia, it does incorporate Gregory and Keep River National Parks in the Northern Territory.
Things to see and do
- The Jinumum walk and the Lang-gerrbi (Nigli Gap) walk offer the chance to see some of the rock art characteristic of the area.
- Discover past evidence of volcanic activity, massive marine deposits and glaciation visible in the rocks and landforms of this region. Northern Territory National Parks
Northern Territory National Parks
- Mary River National Park
- Litchfield National Park
- Nitmiluk National Park
- Linmen National Park
- Gregory National Park
- Keep River National Park
- Davenport National Park
- West MacDonnell National Park
- Finke Gorge National Park